Michigan gets serious about high cost of prisons

“We've locked up people for a long time. I don't believe we've created safer communities.” – Rep. Joe Haveman, R-Holland

Since 1980, Michigan’s biggest growth industry has been its prison system.

It is a dubious distinction, as the state devotes a bigger share of its general fund budget to prisons than any other state. With annual spending of about $2 billion, Michigan pumps more money into corrections than higher education. And the state keeps its prisoners behind bars longer than the national average.

Conservatives and liberals alike are now saying it is a price Michigan can no longer afford. While opposition to change remains, critics are renewing a push for reforms that include reducing sentencing guidelines for many non-violent crimes, changes in parole procedures and release of some sick and elderly prisoners that cost upwards of $200,000 a year just for mental health and medical care.

“We better start looking for solutions now,” said state Rep. Joe Haveman, R-Holland, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “This budget is going to grow not only at the expense of higher education but multiple other programs.”

Haveman, representing one of the state’s most conservative regions, has advocated for prison reform for years, and is among a growing chorus on the right championing an issue that was long the province of progressives. But while Democrats emphasize concerns such as the disproportionate incarceration of poor people of color, the right, including figures like former GOP U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, lean on the financial cost of sprawling prisons in an era of tight state budgets.

To Haveman, the issue of crime and punishment boils down to a basic question: What are we getting for our money? The answer: much less than in years past.

In 1980, corrections spending consumed just 3 percent of the state budget. That soared to more than 21 percent by 2013. Prison population stood near 15,000 in 1980. It was more than triple that 25 years later. On average, prisoners today cost the state $35,000 a year. And they are growing more expensive as they age.

“We've locked up people for a long time,” Haveman said. “I don't believe we've created safer communities. I tell people that if I believed locking people up for long periods of time will make us safer, I will write the blank check.”

To his point, a 2013 study by the Pew Center for the States, a Washington D.C.-based independent research organization, found Michigan's rate of incarceration dropped 12 percent between 2007 and 2012. During the same period, crime fell 17 percent.

Old prisoners, big bills

As a start, Haveman is preparing legislation to grant release of some geriatric or sick prisoners, taking cues from a program launched in Connecticut in 2013 to move terminally ill or incapacitated prisoners to a 90-bed, state-run nursing home. The program allows the state to shift costs from its corrections budget to Medicaid.

“That could save us a lot of money,” Haveman said.

According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, the 10 most costly prisoners in the state averaged more than $220,000 in health care or mental health care expenses in 2013, or a total of $2.2 million. A 65-year-old male, serving a term at Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson for two counts of second-degree criminal sexual assault, topped the list at $316,420.

Haveman also is awaiting word from the Michigan Law Review Commission – which has been analyzing sentencing and parole data for nine months - for recommendations on safely lowering prison spending. Its report is expected later this year.

The commission's data is being compiled by the the Council of State Governments Justice Center, a national nonprofit research organization. Carl Reynolds, senior policy adviser for the center, said preliminary data includes findings of “wildly different” sentences for the same crime and inconsistent probation practices.

Reynolds said it also has found “very little difference” in re-arrest rates for inmates released at or near their minimum sentence and those held longer.

Not so fast

But not all Republicans are ready to jump aboard the reform movement.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has been a vocal opponent of early release, particularly the potential parole of more than 350 Michigan teenagers serving mandatory life sentences. The prospect of their release arose in 2012 when the U.S. Supreme Court barred such sentences for juveniles. Schuette argues that the ruling should apply only to new juvenile murder convictions, not those committed prior to the ruling. The issue is to be decided by the Michigan Supreme Court.

To revisit prior cases, Schuette wrote in an op-ed he co-authored in the Detroit Free Press, “would be penalizing and punishing the family (of crime victims). And they have suffered enough.”

Instead of early release, Schuette argues the state should looks to cut costs by reducing wages of corrections employees and the cost of services. According to a 2011 study by the Lansing-based Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a nonprofit research organization, Michigan's corrections wages ranked sixth highest in the nation, at $58,089 a year. He backs the decision in 2013 to privatize food service for prisons and would expand that to areas like laundry and transportation.

State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said he is “willing to look at” recommendations for reform, adding that the idea of releasing some sick and elderly prisoners makes sense to him.

But Jones, a former jail administrator and sheriff of Eaton County, is cautious about letting prisoners out at their earliest release date.

“I think some legislators think that inmates go to prison and they suddenly become Christians and they are saved. I can tell you from experience that very few continue down that path when they get out.”

To be sure, Michigan's prison population has come down from its peak of more than 51,000 in 2006, declining to 42,904 in 2011 before rising slightly to more than 43,000 in 2013. MDOC officials attribute the decline from its peak to a drop in the number of incoming prisoners, an increase in parole and fewer prisoners returned to prison for minor parole violations. They also cite 1998 state legislation allowing parole of prisoners given mandatory life sentences for possessing or delivering 650 grams of cocaine or heroin.

Health care woes

But costs remain stubbornly high, hovering near $2 billion the past several years, as the prison population grows grayer and more costly to incarcerate:

  • According to the state House Fiscal Agency, the percentage of prisoners in their 50s and 60s more than tripled between 1994 and 2012, and now accounts for 18 percent of all prisoners.
  • Between 1998 and 2012, state spending for prisoner health care and mental health services climbed by 80 percent, from $162 million to $291 million, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy, a Lansing-based nonprofit advocacy organization.

Today, Michigan prisons hold 44 prisoners over age 80, some housed at Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater. Though the outside perimeter is lined with razor wire, its geriatric unit seems more nursing home than prison. Inmates, many serving life sentences, shuffle around with walkers or in wheelchairs. Some need assistance to bathe or dress. Bingo is a weekly highlight.

“I think some legislators think that inmates go to prison and they suddenly become Christians and they are saved. I can tell you from experience that very few continue down that path when they get out.” – Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge

In 2013, MDOC Director Daniel Heyns weighed in on the cost of older prisoners in an article in Capital News Service, a branch of the Michigan State University School of Journalism.

“It’s a decision we need to talk about,” Heyns said. “You can keep them locked up, but get ready to write the check.”

Drugs, serial killer help spark prison boom

Michigan's prison population hovered around 15,000 from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. Then it exploded, more than tripling in less than 20 years from 14,658 in 1984 to more than 50,000 in 2002.

Multiple factors contributed:

  • Felony convictions, corresponding with a rise in reported crime and the national war on drugs, began to rise in the 1980s, according to Citizens Research Council analysis.
  • While the rate of violent crime in Michigan fell by 30 percent between 1986 and 2006, the state’s prison population grew by nearly 250 percent over this period.
  • Between 1987 and 2003, Michigan closed three-fourths of its 16 state psychiatric hospitals, on the assumption that these patients would be taken care of by community mental agencies. Many wound up in prison. A 2010 University of Michigan study found that more than 20 percent of state prisoners had severe mental illness.
  • In 1992, 38-year-old paroled rapist Leslie Allen Williams confessed to the abduction and slaying of four teenage girls in Oakland and Genesee counties. He had been paroled two years earlier. Responding to public outrage, Gov. John Engler ordered sweeping reorganization of the parole board, replacing professional civil servants with political appointees. Parole rates plummeted.
  • In 1998, Michigan adopted tough “truth-in-sentencing” guidelines that mandate prisoners serve at least their minimum sentence in a secure facility. The guidelines ended provisions for reduced prison terms in exchange for good behavior.

Analysis by the Citizens Research Council concluded that the combination of truth-in-sentencing and parole board changes led to a 20 percent decrease in parole approval, a doubling of technical rule violators returned to prison and 11 percent rise in recidivism from 1990 to 2002.

The trend of prisoners being held for longer periods in Michigan was corroborated by another study, by the Pew Center on the States, which compared inmates released from prison in 36 states between 1990 and 2009. It found the typical Michigan inmate was locked up 17 months longer than the national average. Those locked up for assault crimes in Michigan served 30 more months than average.

According to Barbara Levine, a researcher for the Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending (CAPPS), a Lansing-based nonprofit advocacy organization, there are more than 8,000 Michigan prisoners locked up past their eligible release date. There are more than 850 prisoners with life sentences eligible for parole, Levine reported, with a median age of 59 and an average term served of 29 years.

Levine acknowledged that rapist Williams' crimes were an unspeakable tragedy. But she asserts that the parole board and sentencing changes enacted in their wake have proven more costly than effective.

“They were among the most horrible crimes,” Levine said. “But to abhor what he did doesn't logically lead to the policies that followed.”

Other reform proposals

CAPPS supports Haveman's proposal to release certain geriatric and sick prisoners. It also backs reforms that have uncertain support in the Republican-dominated legislature, including:

  • Establish “presumptive parole,” which would stipulate that prisoners be released at completion of their minimum sentence unless there is reason to believe their release poses a risk to the public.
  • Scrap truth-in-sentencing guidelines and replace them with a system that gives judges more discretion in sentencing and allows for “good time” prison term reductions.
  • Revamp the parole board review process for prisoners serving life terms who are eligible for parole, by requiring appeals for parole to be heard every two years, instead of five. It would also require personal interviews with inmates and seek input from MDOC staff on prisoner rehabilitation.

Muskegon resident Tameka Briggs has another perspective.

In 2009, her father, Willie C. Rice, was killed while frying fish in the kitchen when his Muskegon home was robbed. Derrick Lynell Hewlett, then 20, was one of two men convicted in the murder. Hewlett had been paroled a year before the killing after serving 20 months of a 20-month-to-20-year sentence for cocaine delivery.

Both men were given life sentences.

If Hewlett had not been paroled early, Briggs said, “There's a chance my dad would be with me today.”

“If you let them out early, then you are putting them out where they could hurt somebody else.”

Haveman said it will take political courage to proceed with reform, when highly publicized events like the Rice murder occur.

“You can't ever say that nothing bad is going to happen,” Haveman said. “When we've determined that someone has paid their debt to society, we have to be willing to take a risk and let them out.”

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Tue, 04/15/2014 - 8:52am
Why, as a state, are we not focusing on prisons as a rehabilitation tool? Prison should not be just a time out for grown ups. We know that doesn't work when we have sky high recidivism rates. Simply trying to pick out those prisoners for release that won't come back on their own is not a solution to any problem. Sure, it saves a few bucks, but we're not actually improving the state, not improving safety and not improving our prison system. Our corrections system should help prisoners turn their lives around (you know, "correct" them). You should be able to gain essential life skills, get a basic degree, learn a trade and be connected to social and employment services when released. This is how we lower crime in the state, and that will have a much grander budget impact than letting out a few 60 year olds.
Thu, 04/17/2014 - 5:26pm
Joseph how do you re habilitate people who hve anal sex with their young daughters so mush there rectal musles no longer work? The prisoners that re-habilitate want to, You don’t understand when dad wasn’t around mom was a drug addict and you were born because your mom was turning trick’s, your world isn’t like society’s norm s. The norm is Hustle and sell drugs for money steal to eat and cloth yourself.
Sherry smith
Wed, 10/21/2015 - 9:44am
Iam starting a petition to put good time back in the prison because some of them people who is doing time for being at the wrong place at the wrong time and got more time than the actual person that did the crime I don't feel they should be in there for a long period of time
Thu, 10/22/2015 - 10:37am
I'll sign it.
Wed, 02/24/2016 - 9:21am
I will too!
Rick S
Tue, 04/15/2014 - 9:06am
Thank you for this excellent analysis. We need more news coverage like this.
Tue, 04/15/2014 - 9:34am
On a per capita basis we spend more on prisoners than students. Sad statistic. These efforts will probably be blocked by the corporate prison lobby - they have the bucks to buy votes to block change. Us voters don't really matter - no lobbyists, no money to buy our own legislators. Only briefly referenced (...'and the national war on drugs,..') was the drug issue - huge. The 'war on drugs' is a spectacular failure and this is part of that failure.
Le Roy Barnett
Tue, 04/15/2014 - 9:59am
Senator Rick Jones is quoted in this piece as saying people are wrong in thinking that "inmates go to prison and they suddenly become Christians and they are saved." In fact, statistics show that most of them are Christians when they are incarcerated. According to the "2009 Prisoner Faith Preferences" survey compiled by the Michigan Department of Corrections, the religious affiliation of prisoners breaks down as follows (in frequency order): Atheist - 0.1%; Hare Krishna - 0.1%; Scientology - 0.1%; Unknown - 0.8%; Seventh-day - 0.9%; Jehovah's Witness - 1.5%; Jewish - 1.8%; Native American - 2.3%; All Other - 2.5%; Buddhist - 2.6%; Other Faiths - 5.5%; No Preference - 12.1%; Moorish, Muslim or Islam - 14.4%; and Christian - 55.3%.
Victoria who ha...
Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:00am
How many Christians visit inmates? Jesus said . . . I was in prison, and you came to me. (Matthew 25:36) MOST CHRISTIANS HAVE SOFT FEET – talk no walk – Long story short 1997 my firstborn ended up MDOC . . . pastor at church attending my begging a visit ‘we don’t do THAT here’ . . . ‘that’ was prison visitation – BUT THAT CHURCH HAD A BIG THEATER program for a little church “show time" oh yea . . . I was asked to leave . . . asking several pastors – after a few years one said yes. He is now in California. ‘Mom – no one writes the guys in my cell – can you write them too?” . . . that started more than a decade writing inmates . . . NOT ONE CHRISTIAN EVER HAS HELPED ME – OR EVEN BOUGHT A SINGLE STAMP – NOT EVEN MOTHERS OF SONS ADDED TO MY LIST. After five years I quit asking. Term ‘Christian’ is a misnomer – false . . . ASK CHURCHES HOW MANY INMATES THEY SERVE? I guess it is painful – thank God I am no longer in Michigan – but all my offspring are.
Reba D
Fri, 11/07/2014 - 2:13am
Victoria, many sheep who claim the Shepard will not hear Christ voice and one day He will judge them. I am a hand and a foot for Jesus Christ I have traveled from Detroit to Muskegon Heights (EC BROOKS CORRECTIONAL) at least 4 times this year not because of what I want to do but because the Holy Spirit whispers to me that he want me to see about a friend.I will be looking for help from people like you that are the true hands and feet of Christ and woman of God "they won't have a church full of Christian folk , a revered pastor or a great prison ministry" they will be carryout churches self contained men/women with confidence in a Lord who came to set the captives free.Amen May you and your son, and everyone of those that felt your love be blessed now and forever. Bye
Sat, 04/19/2014 - 8:57am
I am here to tell you. Most prisoners go to the chapel just to get out of there cells. Not to become Christians, Nation of Islam, or Native. Where I work there isn't one person in the Native services is Native it is just a reason to hang out with there gangs and plan how to take over the Phones or yards or the next scam coming that they can press weaker prisoners for money.
Tue, 04/15/2014 - 12:20pm
As usual, you use the term '7-fold' incorrectly. 7-fold means the costs have multiplied 128 times, not 7 times. Is English your native language?
David Zeman
Tue, 04/15/2014 - 3:24pm
Merriam-Webster sev·en·fold adjective \-ˌfōld\ : seven times as great or as many And the language would be English
Charles Richards
Tue, 04/15/2014 - 1:25pm
It is not a legitimate objection when "Democrats emphasize concerns such as the disproportionate incarceration of poor people of color." We should not have quotas for incarceration. If a particular group commits crimes at a rate that is twice their percentage of the population they should be incarcerated at that rate. Mr. Roelofs has a good point when he says, " And the state keeps its prisoners behind bars longer than the national average." Criminals tend to be impulsive people with poor self-control and short time horizons. The prospect of a severe punishment is probably not particularly effective. A high probability of being apprehended and punished fairly quickly would probably be more effective. Increasing incarceration was a rational response to the increase in crime during the seventies and eighties, but crime has dropped significantly since then, so it probably makes sense to reduce incarceration. A point supported by the PEW center's finding that "Michigan’s rate of incarceration dropped 12 percent between 2007 and 2012. During the same period, crime fell 17 percent." CAPPS' recommendation to "Establish “presumptive parole,” which would stipulate that prisoners be released at completion of their minimum sentence unless there is reason to believe their release poses a risk to the public." is not well thought out. That risk should be quantified and be on the record. Each member of the parole board should make an estimate of the probability that an inmate will commit a crime. If their judgment is good more wight should be given to their recommendations.
Joe G
Tue, 04/15/2014 - 6:17pm
As an alternative to privatizing prisons, Japan is experimenting with four rehab prisons where the prison management are government employees but the rest of the prison staff are privatized. This seems to be successful in saving money and decreasing recidivism rates. Michigan should investigate the Japanese system.
Sat, 04/19/2014 - 12:14am
Another wonderful idea to eliminate good paying middle class jobs served by devoted, honorable people. How very republican of them!
Wed, 04/16/2014 - 1:39pm
I wonder, Mr. Haveman, who is the "us" who will be saved a lot of money it prisoners are moved from tax-supported prisons to tax-supported nursing homes paid for by tax dollars in the Medicaid program?
Allan Blackburn
Thu, 04/17/2014 - 3:11pm
Until we rehabilitate people instead of just locking them up, nothing is going to change. We do nothing to help people in prison and we do not hire felons when they get out. We lead a charge of recidivism.
Thu, 04/17/2014 - 5:18pm
Allen how do you re habilitate people who hve anal sex with their young daughters so mush there rectal musles no longer work?
Mon, 01/12/2015 - 2:59pm
Steve, I have seen you quote that image in repeated responses. What about rehabilitating the other 95% of the prison population? I agree that the recidivism rate for pedophiles is terrible. However, let's talk about real situations, not your personal nightmare(s).
Thu, 04/17/2014 - 5:15pm
In the 1980 mentally ill prioners were in mental hospitals , Not warehoused in prisons . Engler eliminated the hospitals and put the budget into corrections. Open hospitals so people can bitch about that budget,
Fri, 04/18/2014 - 2:54pm
do not know where Schuette is getting his facts from but i just retired from the MDOC in 2013 and my pay was maxed out at 52,000 a year. so who ever was making the 58,000 in 2011 was not a C/O. I dont understand why they wont look at administration cost. we would have extra SGTs durning the week and then call a SGT in for overtime all weekend. front office staff and ARUS, RUMs dont punch out for lunch and take 2hrs for lunch when they are only allowed 30 min. a Corrections Officer at Bellamy Creek would have 7 Bosses and that is not counting the ones in the front offices its time to get in line with other states for our supervisor numbers
Fri, 04/18/2014 - 11:29pm
I have worked decades in the prison system and left in February. I can tell you that the programming offered in the institution is a top priority and is taught by a majority of the staff that work there. From the Officers to the program coordinators and the Psychologists. Unfortunately, most of the inmates in the system are more concerned with learning new facets of crime than correcting their behavior and taking something positive with them. The peer pressure is great between the prisoners to continue the street mentality and not focus on the rehabilitation. Family members and caregivers too often want to point the finger at the corrections department before realizing that they had the opportunity to influence the behavior and decision making of the now prisoners before they became incarcerated. I agree that there should be more money going into education than prisons, but at the same time, more parents should be parents and take control of their children before they passs the burden on to the Department of Corrections.
Brian Hewitt
Sun, 04/20/2014 - 10:06am
I have a solution: Lets release the non-violent cannabis users. Let these people go home to be with their families! BTW a pound of Pure Michigan apples goes for about $4.00 per pound. A pound of Pure Michigan cannabis will bring in $4,000.00 per pound. Lets turn this state around with God's green herb!
Mon, 04/21/2014 - 8:46am
I'm glad to see the legislators have finally read the data that has been available for more than 5 years. Even the imperfect Granholm administration saw the need for prison reform and began to take serious steps to change it. Several of those steps are being washed away by a new administration. And if reducing costs is a tool, then the state had better fix their food program before a riot breaks out. The privatization of the food program is not working, and you can ask corrections offices and wardens alike. If AG wants to reduce wages, (i.e. privatizing) then I suspect he's not seeking a second term nor is he expressing any understanding of the environment and working conditions of prison employees. The programming in the prison is fair though many practical skills programs have been eliminated, and not all prisons have the same level of programming. While cognitive behavioral programming is a good tool, it is incomplete if there are not programs that help individuals find meaning in their lives. And unless the men and women cannot build real relationships with family or friends while in prison or before their release, their return to the world is already in a deficit. There is much to do and it may take more money to get started. But at least get started and bring in the community voices of health agencies, service providers, employers and family practioners to improve the dialogue. Prison itself is the punishment. The conditions inside are not meant to increase it. And while there may be some who don't want to change or who even think it is cool or a rite of passage to be in prison, separate them from those who want to change, who have accepted their punishment and want to move on. Many of the younger inmates need to mature and it make take time for that to happen. And there may not be enough time either. But by modifying the environment inside it may help foster some change.
Mon, 04/21/2014 - 12:20pm
So...Is it cheaper for us to support all those released prisoners when they get out an go on welfare?
Mon, 01/12/2015 - 3:05pm
LJ, simple answer to your question is YES, it is cheaper to support them on welfare... Besides, there are some employers who ARE willing to employ some of them... on poverty wages.
Mon, 04/21/2014 - 4:01pm
There are a number of factors that have contributed to the increase in our corrections budget that were simply not factors in 1980. They are as follows: 1) The deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill. 2) Supreme Court decisions regarding the obligations of correctional systems to provide for the medical and mental health care of inmates. A significant increase in the cost of incarcerating people. 3) The deindustrialization of our urban areas that have cut off a path to the middle class for urban residents. 4) The crack cocaine wars of the 1980s and 1990s that led to an explosion of violent crime in our inner cities. Michigan has the two most violent cities in America, Flint and Detroit and if Saginaw had a population of over 100,000 we would have three of the top five. 5) And this one may not be politically correct but the coming of age of the Great Society children. Is it any wonder that our corrections population exploded in 1990, 20 years after LBJ's Great Society started to subsidize the poor having children that they could not successfully raise to adulthood. Especially given the deindustrialization of our urban areas. What are these people to do in such cases? They talk of cutting the pay and benefits for corrections staff as a way of making corrections more affordable. The outcome of that will be less overall staff and lower quality staff. We need politicians who will tell the citizens of this state the truth in terms of the costs of doing business as a state government. Pretending that reality is not reality will not solve the problem.
Wed, 06/11/2014 - 9:37pm
Why is it that so many people harp on prisoners that are paroled will return to prison? What about the parolees that take advantage of the opportunity to be free and become productive citizens in our society? The ones that will go to work, spend time with loved ones, become a positive role model and appreciate their second chance at life! They do exist!
Fri, 09/05/2014 - 6:53pm
I feel like people like to give opinions on topics they don't know much about and that's fine. Knowing the facts and having personal experience with this all is another thing. For someone who's never been to a prison or even met someone incarcerated would assume prison is just full of monsters. Child molesters, murderers, gang bangers who deserve to be punished for life. Don't get me wrong those people do exist and they do deserve there punishments. However what about the people who are first time offenders to none violent crimes? Would you think twice about those people being released early? What if there where specific criteria that had to be met to qualify for good time? Such as perfect behavior, going to certain consoling or classes, sentenced to a non violate crime, must be a first time offender. If we released those men how much money would we save? Would we be able to have better schools for our kids? Would Detroit turn into a better place ? So maybe we could have the finances to clean it up. Maybe we should just follow suit and copy Texas . They not only have millions of less convicts but had to close two of there prisons. We should just have good time and the death penalty. That way just maybe some of these murderers might think twice about pull a trigger. Also, our tax dollars wouldn't be wasted on feeding them. Michigan isn't saving a few bucks by no good time law we are spending 2 billion dollars!!! That's enough to save michigan . People who grew up in the suburbs and had it easily handed to them assume some cannot change or better themselves and that's not true. You need to really do your research on this matter because there are families waiting on someone to come home they love and care about and know them better then a mistake or a judge with a paddle .
Wed, 09/17/2014 - 9:06pm
The things they way they are now is the only thing that helps me sleep at night. Victims, like myself and my daughters, rely on the current system to know that we will not be killed by my ex due to an early release or going before the parole board. Those that are for releasing any violent sexual offender HAVE NO IDEA what it is to live like this. Hidden away from society hoping to never be found, knowing that one day your life may be cut short by a random stranger who happened to be in the same gang as my ex in prison. I can't even talk/write properly right now as the very thought of him getting out before (hopefully) someone kills him in prison kicks my PTSD into high gear
Mon, 09/29/2014 - 11:06pm
I feel that they need to do something about the harsh time sentence guide lines plus bring good behavior back to the inmates. Michigan is messed up look at all the money we are spending on them and we don't have any more. Are you serious about the wages for the correction officers give me a break. They are just as bad as the inmates they treat the prisoners like they are dirt even the family they do. Some know the crime the did and they have changed for the better. I am a prisoners wive and Ia m proud to be it I am not ashamed of it at all. My husband knows what he did was wrong and had changed. They sentence him on the harsh sentence guide lines. I feel we need to change a lot of the laws.
Fri, 12/26/2014 - 2:52pm
Rick Wershe has spent the last 28 years in prison for a non violent offense (drug possession) which occurred when he was a juvenile. Why on Earth should Rick spend another day in prison for something he did as a kid?? It's been a total waste of money not to mention a waste of a life. Free Rick NOW!!! -> "The Clemency Report named Richard Wershe Jr., a 44-year-old with a colorful past, as Michigan's inmate most deserving of clemency. He was arrested for cocaine at age 17, in May 1987, and has been serving his life for this single, non-violent offense ever since. Richard gained fame in the Detroit area as "White Boy Rick" when the DEA and other officers used him as an informant starting at age 14. He was busted for possession with intent to distribute eight kilograms of cocaine at age 17. He has been turned down for parole three times and will be eligible again in 2017. His case has been detailed in many news stories and further information can be found at the FreeWhiteBoyRickWershe Facebook page." - http://clemencyreport.org/richard-wershe-jr-named-michigans-no-1-inmate-...
Mon, 01/12/2015 - 3:13pm
Thank you, Dave M. for highlighting a perfect example of the nonsensical waste of lives in response to the "War On Drugs." Minimum sentences have been reduced on drug crimes in Michigan, but MUCH more needs to be done. THOUSANDS of MDOC inmates should be released TODAY for non-violent drug possession charges. Keep up the good work!
Sherry Romska
Sat, 06/04/2016 - 4:44pm
We really need to do something to bring Good Time back to Michigan. The prisons are so over crowded that it is causing problem. They have put bunk beds in TV. rooms and in the Gym. and now they have to stay in their rooms and not allowed in the only day room unless its a certain schedule. It is no different than a level 4 but we are level 2. Why did they do away with the good time any way. Granted they need to go thru a process to make sure they are rehabilitated. It would save the State Money and help with the overcrowded ness Please Advise me as to what we can do to get Good Time back?